June 4, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The UCF Knights scored one run in the first five innings against Bethune-Cookman in an elimination game at the Tallahassee Regional but in the last four innings UCF put up 15 runs to stay alive with a 16-5 victory. An eight-run, seventh inning and five RBIs from Jonathan Griffin propelled the Knights (39-22) past B-CU (36-25) in a contest that featured 20 UCF hits and a 3:20 weather delay.
“The magic number seven- seven is usually the inning that we usually can’t get anybody out and that turned out to be the big inning for UCF,” said BC-U Head Coach Mervyl Melendez. “We couldn’t locate and couldn’t throw the pitches we needed to and that was ultimately the inning that destroyed our season.”
The seventh inning was even more painful for the Wildcats as they had come from 3-0 down to take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth but the Knights went on the offensive right away. UCF loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh. A DJ Hicks single to right tied the game. Griffin followed with a two-run double to right on the next pitch and on third consecutive pitch Derek Luciano singled home two more runs, as the Knights scored five runs on three straight pitches as they went on to build an 11-4 lead following the top half of the seventh.
“From a team standpoint I was very proud of the way we battled back and we answered when we needed to in the second half of the game offensively,” said UCF Head Coach Terry Rooney.
UCF starter Danny Winkler (3-4) and the UCF bullpen allowed just one earned run in the game. Winkler pitched 5.2 innings and allowed just three hits. The junior struck out six Wildcats and walked three. Nick Cicio (4-2) and Bryan Brown came in to complete the game and allowed just one hit total in their 3.1 innings of relief work.
“I thought Danny Winkler pitched fantastic,” said Rooney. “I thought he was incredible the entire time he was out there…”
“I just stuck to my game plan like I have always been doing in the last couple of weeks – just get ahead early,” said Winkler. “My slider was really bad today – I just wasn’t happy with it. I commanded my fastball and with their starter going and pitching like he was he just kept me in it like I should be in a nothing to nothing ballgame.”
The Knights will face the winner of the winner’s bracket game in Tallahassee featuring Florida State and Alabama. The Knights lost to Alabama to open the regional and lost a hard fought series against FSU in Tallahassee earlier this season.
“We are very confident in the position we are in,” said Rooney. “Certainly you would have liked to have been in the 2-0 game but where we are right now for two reasons: Number one offensively I think we found our grove a little bit today, we swung the bats very. Tomorrow is about having confidence – we have got it now. From a pitching standpoint we have got depth.”
NOTE: The weather delay began at 2:49 EST and the game resumed at 6:09 pm EST.